(CNN) – An attorney for former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer responded Wednesday to the criminal investigation into Greer's use of party money.
The lawyer, Gregory Miller, said Greer is innocent of any criminal activity and will fully cooperate with the investigation. Miller accused the current party chairman, John Thrasher, of having a "personal vendetta" against his predecessor.
"The statements and actions of John Thrasher today against his predecessor, former GOP Chairman Jim Greer, are without merit and the continuation of a political vendetta intended to conceal the actions of others and blame Chairman Greer, a private citizen, for the conduct of elected officials," Miller said in a statement.
"Mr. Thrasher's accusations are a heavy-handed attempt to avoid the Party's formally documented financial and legal obligation to Mr. Greer, who has not committed any criminal activity and looks forward to cooperating fully with any investigation," he said.
(CNN) - A presidential tradition that dates 100 years will continue Monday: President Obama will throw out the first pitch before the Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies.
John Odell, curator of history and research at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said President William Howard Taft was the first to throw an Opening Day pitch in Washington in 1910.
"Washington has been the historic place for presidential first pitches," he said.
New York (CNNMoney.com) – A growing number of major U.S. corporations are expecting to take tax charges in the first quarter related to the recently enacted health care reform law.
But while some companies are fretting about the charges, defenders of the law say the new rules merely close a loophole that allowed a double-dip benefit.
On Wednesday, Boeing became the latest company to disclose that the law, which was signed by President Obama last week, will negatively impact its financial results.
The aeronautics company expects to take an income tax charge of roughly $150 million, or 20 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2010 as a result of the law.
Washington (CNN) - Several environmentalists expressed disappointment and dismay over President Barack Obama's decision Wednesday to open key Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters to oil and gas drilling.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said David Rauschkolb, a Florida restaurant owner who organized anti-drilling rallies last month at several Gulf coast beaches.
"Florida's legacy is clean water, clean beaches, sunshine and tourism. Every oil rig is a threat to tourism and coastal well-being. ... All it takes
is one spill."
One leading critic of offshore drilling, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, vowed to fight Obama's plan.
Washington (CNN) – Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer, who stepped down from his post earlier this year after grassroots leaders revolted against his management of the party, is under criminal investigation for allegedly setting up an secret fundraising contract that paid him and the party's executive director nearly $200,000 in donor money.
An independent annual audit of party expenses revealed that the party "may have been the victim of illegal criminal activity on the part of one of its vendors, controlled by a senior-level official," said Jim Thrasher, the current chairman of the party, in a statement Wednesday.
That vendor was Victory Strategies, LLC, a firm set up in February 2009 by Greer and former RPOF executive director Delmar Johnson that awarded them a 10 percent cut of all party donations.
Thrasher said he notified Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on March 15 of the "potential illegal activity." McCollum called the information "serious and concerning" and referred the matter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is now investigating Greer for potential criminal activities.
Greer, the majority owner of the firm, and Johnson collected at least $133,000 worth of donor money in 2009 along with $66,250 in additional consulting fees.
Washington (CNN) – Just minutes after the clock expired on the first day of Passover, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin issued a biting critique of the Obama administration's Middle-East policy via her Facebook page.
In a post entitled "Peace Not Possible if Iran Escapes Real Sanctions," Palin accuses President Obama of dropping the pursuit of "crippling" sanctions against Iran and treating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like an "unwelcome guest" during a recent visit to Washington.
"[J]ust as the Obama administration inexplicably gives up on imposing crippling sanctions on Iran, it's taken an uncompromising hard line against one country in the Middle East: Israel," Palin writes. "On his recent visit to Washington, the Israeli Prime Minister was treated like an unwelcome guest, as shown by White House actions such as refusing to be photographed with Israel's Prime Minister."
Washington (CNN) - Despite making a pledge to resign, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced Wednesday that she will not retire before her term expires in 2012.
"This has been a hard decision. I really did intend to leave," the Texas Republican told reporters in San Antonio.
Citing the recent passage of health care reform, a possible change in energy policy and the federal government's "massive debt," Hutchison said there were plenty of reasons to remain in Washington.
(CNN) - The "drill baby, drill" rally cry is back.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, on Wednesday hailed President Obama's decision to open U.S. coastal waters to oil and natural gas drilling.
Arizona's senior senator, who faces a tough Republican primary fight this year, tweeted: "Drill baby drill! Good move – where are Reid and Pelosi on this?"
During the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain - as well as his running mate Sarah Palin - wholeheartedly favored offshore drilling as gas prices rose throughout the country.
(CNN) - Former first lady Barbara Bush was released from a Texas
hospital Wednesday, four days after being admitted for a series of tests.
Doctors believe the 84-year-old wife of former President George H.W. Bush may have suffered a mild relapse of Graves disease, a thyroid condition for which she was first treated in 1989, according to a statement released from Houston's Methodist Hospital.
In response, Mrs. Bush's medication levels have been adjusted, the statement said. "Upon discharge she was alert, talkative and appeared to be getting stronger as she prepared to return home," it said.
Last year, Mrs. Bush underwent open-heart surgery, during which doctors replaced her aortic valve with a biologic valve. She spent nine days in the hospital afterward.
Doctors believe the valve "is working very well," the hospital's statement said.
In November 2008, Mrs. Bush underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer.
– CNN's Dick Uliano contributed to this report